Good Morning, Broncos fans! The family of the late Shane Dronett, a former Broncos 2nd-round draft pick, has finally received some closure regarding the behavioral deterioration that led to his suicide two years ago. Researchers at Boston University have determined that Dronett was suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the same brain disease that had previously felled former NFL players Mike Webster, Andre Waters, Justin Strzelczyk, Tom McHale, Terry Long, John Grimsley, possibly Dave Duerson and countless unknown others.
Meanwhile, another disturbing and eye-opening story from Jeanne Marie Laskas was published in the March issue of GQ; this one details the day-to-day struggles of former Vikings star LB Fred McNeill, an accomplished attorney in his post-playing days who is now a shell of his old self. Laskas' first article on the subject chronicled the discovery of CTE by Dr. Bennet Omalu (a forensic pathologist) and his subsequent blackballing by the NFL and its concussion committee, which was (darkly comically) headed by a rheumatologist, Dr. Elliot Pellman. We (not the royal) strongly encourage you to read all three of these articles, on Omalu, McNeill and Dronett; I've linked to Laskas' first piece before, and I will surely do so again.
Writers and readers alike, we are all here thanks to our love for the sport of football, but some things are bigger than the orange and blue uniforms we root for; the men who wear them are losing their minds and their lives in the name of playing a game, enduring countless head injuries for an eight-second appearance on SportsCenter or our patron saint's old Jacked Up! segment. Something has to change, and if that means watching an NFL that is far different in nature than the one we have all become quite familiar, then so be it. These players and their families are paying a price far greater than whatever glory and compensation playing in the NFL has provided them with.
Happy Friday, friends, and welcome to part two of Ted’s Grand Rosterbation Exercise. I haven’t gone blind yet, so maybe it’s just a myth. Whatevs… I’ll risk it. Armed with a starting point of 20/15 eyesight (thanks to the fine people at LASIKPlus), the comfort of having completed two midterms this week, and the home state pride of seeing both UConn’s men’s and women’s basketball teams in the Final Four (again), I’m getting this thing underway. Ready….. BEGIN!!!
I came with some serious mockery last week, and I decided that I’d close the circle today and create and discuss my conception of a Rational Actor roster for the Broncos. First, let’s revisit where we are vis-à-vis the Draft:
Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Yesterday was apparently another big PR day for the Broncos' brass; here are podcasts of John Fox, Brain Xanders and John Elway all speaking on local Denver radio, plus a partial transcription of Elway's comments. Regarding Demaryius Thomas and his recovery from surgery on his torn Achilles' tendon, Fox danced around the question and Elway said the Broncos hope that the young WR will be ready by the middle of the season. If that's the case, then we're likely looking at Thomas beginning the season on the PUP list, meaning he'd be out for at least the first six games and would have to play by Week 12 at the very latest or be placed on IR for the year. Meanwhile, Xanders didn't have the warmest of words for RT Ryan Harris but said his status is up in the air thanks to the labor dispute. He also said the Broncos would like to have Justin Bannan and Jamal Williams back, for what that's worth.
PS. Don't let anyone make you a Fool today...
When your weekly column coincides with the opening day of the Major League Baseball season, you might as well be writing the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner for all it's worth:
Baseball, baseball, everywhere, and Roger Goodell did shrink.
Baseball, baseball, everywhere, nor a CBA to drink.
If you skipped your last two years of eligibility in order to declare for the NFL Draft (or you wear a silver and black thong), you may not get these two lines. I don't blame you; you've bigger fish to fry. In the case of the thong, I'm talking dirty laundry, holmes.
We'll leave the laundry for another day. It's a day to focus on baseball.
So let me get right to the point: baseball is for total weenies.
According to the Gazette's former Broncos reporter and current Air Force beat guy Frank Schwab, defensive lineman Ben Garland has passed on the opportunity to enroll in the Air Force's pilot training school in order to eventually pursue an NFL career. According to Schwab, in a year's time Garland can submit request that his military commitment be converted to a longer reserve assignment, and which if granted would allow him to join the Broncos in 2012 ala former LB Steve Russ (also an Air Force alum and special-teams stalwart on both of Denver's SB-winning teams and now the LB coach for Wake Forest). Garland is a native of Grand Junction, CO and was signed by the Broncos as an undrafted free agent on April 26 of last year.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Today, Legwold ponders the effect of the recent kickoff rule changes, slipping in one of his "I know everyone lines" - apparently he talks to enough ST coaches "regularly" to gather a consensus. At least he doesn't use any ridiculous stats, although of course I'd rather see the average kick return for the entire league, rather than just that of the Broncos (who had a terrible year returning kicks in '93, 1.8 yards/per worse than the '92 squad). In fact, Glyn Milburn, the Broncos' diminutive 2nd-round pick in 1993, who was touted by some as "the next Eric Metcalf" - had a paltry 15.7-yard average on 12 returns that year. As we've talked Broncos draft disappointments of late, Milburn fits the discussion (although he was far from a bust) - he was fast, had some nice open-field moves and was supposed to be a jack of all trades for Denver.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! So, most people figure Denver to be picking a DT with their first pick next month, and as you know the discussion has focused in on comparing Nick Fairley and Marcell Dareus. Lots of talk about upsides, ceilings, floor heights, football character. Well, Peter Schrager says not so fast, folks! According to Schrager's ridiculous logic, taking a DT in the top five is a huge risk (actually Pete, all picks are) - and a bigger one than taking an offensive skill player. Firstly, he calls it "safe to label" Dan Wilkinson (who played 13 years), Gerard Warren (10 years) and KC's Glenn Dorsey (who has started 46 out of 48 games in his career) as "colossal draft busts." Disappointments relative to their expectations perhaps, but by no means colossal busts. Secondly, he compares them to QBs, WRs and RBs as a group rather than by each position - this is what we refer to as fuzzy math. Yes, let's take a sample of eight guys, use a wide and suspect brush to paint them all as failures, and then compare them to a group of 46 players. Makes perfect sense. (Thanks, JVill)
One area of the field that Denver has very well covered is the wide receiver slot. Whatever their other weaknesses, barring another onslaught of injuries, this is one place that the Broncos are flush. That’s odd, in a way - former head coach Josh McDaniels was trained by Bill Belichick, a man who once famously said that you don’t fill out the WR position until your other spots have been solidified. Denver is in nearly the opposite situation due to McDaniels’ approach, but it does take the A.J. Green/Julio Jones argument out of the draft conversations for the Broncos this year. The TE position is somewhat less clear, but has some quality young talent - we’ll get into that more next time. To give you an idea on the wideouts, though, here’s what the Broncos tweeted:
Fox on the wide receivers: "This may be as good a corps as I'm familiar with." 11:26 AM Jan 14th via web.
He’s absolutely right. It’s a remarkable group, with veteran skills and young talent - this bunch has it all. Let’s look at who they have:
Good Morning, Broncos fans! As Denver prepares to host its allotment of up to 30 draft prospects, Legwold explains what teams can typically glean from these visits and lists a few of the players the Broncos are expected to meet with. Aside from the hackneyed top names, Legwold shares some details on D-linemen Aldon Smith of Missouri and Allen Bailey of Miami, and linebacker Lawrence Wilson from UConn. Plus, he mentions that each organization will traditionally give the visiting players some sort of team swag as souvenirs of their trips. What do you suppose the Broncos will give out? Brain Xanders bobblehead dolls? Signed photos of Joe Ellis with G.H.W.B. and G.W.B.?
As the draft preparations wind their way down, most people believe that Denver is going to use the second pick in the draft on a defensive tackle and a lot of pixels have been dedicated to breaking down the choice that they face. John Elway has emphasized that Denver has to ‘hit’ on their higher picks this year. It’s always important, but as new Broncos head coach John Fox has noted, you hope that you won’t be in the #2 position again - so you'd best take full advantage of it. That could, in theory, lead Denver to choose the player who’s safer in the short term, ensuring that the team doesn’t find itself stuck in a JaMarcus Tussle: paying out big money for a player who is simultaneously very expensive and less than useful on the field, and/or in trouble off of it. The choice, if they go with a DT, appears to be between the 6’3”, 319 lb Marcell Dareus of Alabama and Auburn's 6’4”, 297 lb Nick Fairley. Fans, pundits and commentators have gone back and forth over the issue until it’s nearly run into the ground, but there’s been a tendency to talk about who is more NFL ready rather than who fits Denver’s needs the most expediently. I’ve followed the conversation with avid interest, watched what film I could lay my hands on, and I’ve also come to a conclusion.